Interrupting and Depriving

A murderer who can foresee the future concocts two nefarious plans.

Plan A:  he will murder Natasha in 2025, just as she's about to embark on a trip to Alaska that she's been planning and looking forward to since 2020. 

Plan B: he will interfere with events in 2020, so Natasha doesn't develop her hankering to go to Alaska.  This will actually be very simple, because it all started when she bought a book about Alaska.  All the murderer's got to do is misshelve the bookstore's only copy.  In 2025, he goes through with the killing.

Plan A and Plan B are both evil, but in different ways.  Plan A interrupts more, but Plan B deprives Natasha of the meaningful activity that Plan A would have interrupted.

Hypothesis:  when the harms of two killings are balanced in this way, the killings are morally equivalent. If interrupting activities through killing is bad, depriving someone of those activities, to reduce the interruption, is equally bad.

This strikes me as clearly correct, but I'll submit it to the court of public opinion.  Thoughts?

1 comment:

Wayne said...

So long as we're talking about this scenario, I think we can say that its equivalent. I wouldn't want to draw the conclusion that all deprivations are innocuous or anything like that. I could deprive someone of hearing by rupturing their eardrum... But clearly that would be a harm. And arguably at different points of a person's life I would be depriving them more or less (as a teenager more, as an elderly person or arguably as an infant less).